October 21, 2003

Big Name, Old News, No Matter

There's a story out to day reporting that Arnold Schwarzenegger received more pre-recall press coverage than other contenders, including the leading Democrat, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamamente.

First, that's not surprising, given Arnold's present celebrity and past groping. Second, it's an old story. Third, it didn't matter.

The story in today's Stanford Daily rehashes what David Shaw reported in the L.A. Times on Oct. 12:

"Schwarzenegger also got more headlines than the other four top replacement candidates combined in other major California newspapers - the Mercury News and the Chronicle among them - although the margin wasn't quite as great in those papers.

"The New York Times put Schwarzenegger's name in headlines 35 times - compared with one mention for the other four top contenders combined."

What the stories, based on a study by UC-Berkeley public policy professor Bruce Fuller, don't say is how many of those stories focused on Nazi denials, groping denials, Hummer denials or Arnold being egged.

All of them, though, probably spelled his name right (if it fit in the headline) and that's all Schwarzenegger needed the press for because he ran his real campaign in the electronic and celebrity media.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported after the election:

"'We ran away from the established media,' said Sean Walsh, co-director of communications for the campaign. 'We went to the real mass media. We make no apologies for doing lots of radio or TV. It gave us 5, 7, 8 minutes of unfiltered opportunities to get out our message every day.

'We did it,' he added, 'because we could.'

"It worked. In fact, media analysts and campaign consultants say, Schwarzenegger's strategy may be remembered as the first in contemporary times that rendered newspapers in particular, but also the more serious television correspondents, all but irrelevant to the way the campaign was managed, and also to the choices many voters ultimately made. That approach, noted campaign experts, turned the media order on its head, since television had generally followed the agenda set by the print media." (Emphasis added).

That's the media story of the California recall.

(Thanks to I Want Media.)

 Stanford Daily UC study says media coverage of recall unfair

Posted by Tim Porter at October 21, 2003 07:52 AM